The CareerBuilder Challenge is a pro-am format played over three courses with the PGA West Stadium being the host course. The cut will be decided after three rounds with the final round played by professionals only on the Stadium Course.
Stadium Course PGA West – Par 72, 7,113 yards. This course is played twice including the final round and has a lot of trees, streams, and lakes that come into play. The fairways are quite forgiving and shouldn’t be too difficult to hit but the tricky Bermuda rough will be lurking to swallow any erratic tee shots. This course is well bunkered with big Bermuda greens which can play very fast depending on weather conditions.
Nicklaus Tournament Course – Par 72, 7,204 yards. This course has four par 5’s and four par 3’s and plays as one of the easiest on the PGA Tour with the stroke average just under 69 last year. The fairways are also very forgiving with large greens with water featuring on around seven holes.
La Quinta Country Club – Par 72, 7060 yards and has four par fives in total. It also has tree-lined fairways which are a fraction narrower than the other two courses with some water features that come into play. The Bermuda greens tend to be quite tricky and can play quite fast but pin placements tend to be on the generous side to cater for the amateurs so expect plenty of birdies.
The average score of the winner of this tournament has been around the 25 under mark. Also, keep in mind that this is a Pro-Am for the first three rounds so pin positions will be in favorable locations to cater for the amateurs. With this, the pro’s will be taking full advantage to be on the lookout for good birdie average stats and good putters.
With the pro’s playing about 18 par 5’s this week, players with good par 5 scoring stats tend to go well here. Players that have had a good week at the Sony usually bring that momentum into this week as most of the cobwebs are dusted off. Any players that finished in the top 20 last week and have played well here in the past should be worth considering. It’s a tough one to call so approach with caution.
Brian Harman 16/1
He’s knocking on the door over the last few weeks and looks right on the cusp of bagging his third PGA Tour win any day now. The American had his fifth top 10 finish from five starts last week at the Sony shooting a superb 64,63 in the first two rounds. His game has been consistently solid since the start of the season where he finished T5 at the CJ Cup in late October. Harman followed that with a solo eighth at the WGC-HSBC Champions, T4 at the RSM Classic in Georgia and an impressive solo third at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua.
Last week, Harman shot a total of 13 under par in the first two rounds at the Sony and followed that with a respectable 69,70 over the weekend to finish T4. He has a great record at this event finishing T11 in 2016 and T3 last year posting 18 under par on both occasions.
Statswise Harman ranks 16th in driving accuracy, 12th in SGP, fifth in GIR, ninth in par 4 scoring and 20th in par 5 scoring. With the key statistical boxes ticked, everything points to another good week for the in-form lefty.
Jason Dufner 25/1
Dufner had a good finish to last season with three top 20’s from five starts. He had a good week at the Wyndham finishing T14 and followed that with a T20 at the Northern Trust Open where he shot three rounds in the 60’s finishing with a final round 72. He posted a T20 at the Tour Championship in East Lake where he opened with a 68,67 and fell away a bit over the weekend with rounds of 73,72.
Dufner started 2018 off with back to back top 20’s finishing T11 in Kapalua and followed that with four rounds of 69 or better last week at the Sony to finish T18. The American has a great record here with a T18 in 2010, T11 in 2012, a win in 2016 and a T25 last year.
The one stat that seems to be standing out over the last two weeks is Dufner’s putting. He ranked fifth in SGP in Kapalua (Bermuda greens) and 18th last week at the Sony (Bermuda greens) which is a big plus coming into this week. He ranks 13th in SGP on the PGA Tour so far this season and has to be respected here.
Bud Cauley 35/1
Bud Cauley had a good start to the season with two top 10’s from four starts. He played well at the Safeway Classic in October shooting three rounds in the 60’s to finish T7 on 10 under for the week. He followed that with a T8 at the RSM Classic in November which included a second round 63 and a final round 66 to finish T8.
Cauley has played well at this event over the last couple of years finishing T3 last year shooting four rounds of 69 or better and a T14 in 2016 which included a second round 65 and a third round 66 so he clearly likes this course and can go low here. Statswise he ranks 38th in driving accuracy, 12th in SGTTG, 29th in SG around the green and 11th in SGP. One to keep an eye on here.
Austin Cook 60/1
This guy looks very impressive over his short PGA Tour career with a win and four top 25’s in his last six starts. He started with a respectable T25 at the Sanderson Farms Championship back in October followed by a T20 at the Shriners Open in Vegas posting three under for the week. Cook then teed it up at the RSM Classic where he didn’t shoot worse than a 67 for the tournament (including a second round 62) to win by four from J.J Spaun on 21 under par.
His win at the RSM Classic got him to Kapalua for the Sentry Tournament of Champions where he shot a pair of 70’s over the weekend to finish T22. Last week at the Sony, Cook shot rounds of 67,71,65,66 to post 11 under in total and T18 for the tournament and looks to be showing some good consistency. The young American looks like he could have the game to suit this week hitting just over 70% of greens in reg, 36th in scrambling, 37th in SGP and 38th in par 5 scoring. With a precise long game, good putting and solid short game Austin Cook looks great value here.
Top 20 Double – Chez Reavie/Tyrell Hatton @5.6/1
Englishman Tyrell Hatton arrives in Abu Dhabi this week in great form after winning three from three in his matches last week for Europe in the Eurasia Cup. Hatton has been in great from over the last few months winning back to back at the Alfred Dunhill Links in October followed by another victory a week later in Italy.
He finished the European Tour season with four top 20’s finishing T11 at the WGC-HSBC Champions, T16 at the Turkish Airlines Open, T19 at the Nedbank and a T8 at the DP World in Dubai. Hatton has a great record here finishing 13-46-10-6 in his last four appearances and looks in great form coming into this week.
American Chez Reavie is also in fine fettle coming to California with five top 20’s in his last six starts. He started the season with a T13 at the Safeway Classic and followed that with a T17 at the CIMB Classic, T15 at the CJ Cup, T14 at OHL Classic and a T18 last week at the Sony.
Reavie has played well at this event before finishing T17 in 2016 and T12 last year. He is playing consistently well recently and that should continue here this week.
Final selections –
Brian Harman 16/1 1pt EW
Jason Dufner 25/1 0.5pts EW
Bud Cauley 35/1 0.5pts EW
Austin Cook 60/1 0.5pts EW
Top 20 double 1pt
Total staked = 6pts
Paddypower paying 7 places.
Good Luck and enjoy the golf.
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